I’d like to invite everyone to join my friend Kev Wright and me for a very special presentation at the Joliet Area Historical Museum on March 3rd. We will lead the audience through a tour of the American troubadour tradition, paying particular attention to the songs of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and John Mellencamp.
In my most recent essays for Salon, I approach a series of political and cultural with a careful eye, and pugnacious spirit.
In the first, I interview John Mueller, one of the world’s leading researchers on terrorism and public safety. We have an insightful dialogue on the dangers of exaggerating the terror threat, and wasted trillions on “chasing ghosts.”
Next, I write about the hypocrisy and inconsistency of right wing opponents of “political correctness.” While I agree that politically correct liberalism is foolish, boring, and often tyrannical (see post below on the new Devil’s Dictionary), the right wing is not the true champion of free speech and open culture. In fact, they are often the worse purveyors of speech codes and taboos. Read my explanation.
Finally, in my most recent essay, I dismantle the inescapable cliche that what America really needs is a “businessman in the White House.” Subscribers to this naive idea betray their own historical ignorance and political illiteracy.
In my new essay for Splice Today, I eviscerate the lexicon of political correctness polluting cultural discourse, and creating conditions of mediocrity. With apologies to the brilliant, and increasingly relevant, Ambrose Bierce, I offer a new Devil’s Dictionary to “delineate definitions more honest and representative than what explicators of contemporary jargon believe they’re illustrating.”
See my own definitions of the terms ugly and stupid terms, “whitesplain,” “mic drop,” “concern troll,” and others at Splice Today.
Happy New Year, everyone. This website has been static for the past two months, and I do apologize for my negligence.
I’ve been busy writing about everything from terrorism to the godfather of heavy metal, Lemmy Kilmister, at Salon and the Daily Beast.
Like everyone else, I too have written about Donald Trump. I’ve written about religion, economics, and politics, but also about more pleasant topics such as the aforementioned work of Motorhead, the literature of Gore Vidal, and the novels of Jim Webb.
The Daily Beast ran an excerpt from my book on John Mellencamp, while my book on Metallica has received press and great reviews from Consequence of Sound, Record Collector, Illinois Entertainer, and the Chicago Music Examiner.
Make sure to follow this space throughout 2016 for more essays on politics, culture, literature, and music, and for a major update on my next book.
My new book on Metallica is currently available. For the book, I had the thrill of interviewing all of the members of the band, producer Bob Rock, and Jason Newsted.
For all coverage related to the book, go to the the 33 1/3 website. You’ll find an “apologia” addressing why I wrote the book, an interview I conducted with DX Ferris about the relationship between Metallica and Slayer, and much more.
To discuss the book, I also had the pleasure of appearing on Jacques Lamore’s podcast, and then the podcast of thrash metal frontman, Howard Smith.
Buy the book from Bloomsbury or at Amazon.
In my new article for AlterNet, I enumerate six particularly despicable and dangerous state laws punishing the poor for their poverty. No longer content to merely neglect the needs of the poor, many right wing state governments have become actively abusive – weaponizing public policy, and transforming the arm of governance into an aggressive apparatus of destruction against America’s most vulnerable citizens.
Read the article at AlterNet.
Shortly after the publication of my article, the Daily Report – a radio program in Minneapolis, Minnesota – invited me on to discuss the “war on the poor.” Listen to the discussion at 950 AM, Minneapolis.
In a new essay, I give my take on the madness of Donald Trump’s popularity. He acknowledges that America is a society in decline, and this resonates with many ordinary Americans who feel the pain of economic contraction and cultural decay in their own lives. Like a true demagogue, Trump then panders to Americans by locating the source of all their misery in foreign countries and emanating from foreign people. As the Trump candidacy demonstrates, there is a bottomless appetite for xenophobia in much of America.
Read the full essay at AlterNet.
Recently, I examined the higher ed. hustle – saddling students with debt, relying on part time faculty – and students’ weak and meek response to it.
For my full take on how higher education in America has become an exploitative enterprise, and a microcosm of an increasingly unequal society, go to AlterNet.
In the immediate wake of the horrific tragedy of Dylann Roof’s massacre in Charleston, SC, I interviewed Rev. Jesse Jackson on the distinction between the “Confederate flag and the Confederate agenda,” and why removing and revoking the latter is more important.
Read the article at Salon.
Morris Berman, American historian, cultural theorist, and sociologist, is a starry eyed realist whose grim forecast of American demise makes him alone even in leftist circles. In the brilliant trilogy of books on American decline — “Twilight of American Culture,” “Dark Ages of America,” and “Why America Failed” — he surveys the political dysfunction, economic disrepair and cultural decay of modern America. Unlike most social critics, he does not end his analysis with a perfunctory prescription for revolution. Such optimistic talk, Berman makes clear, is the delusional noise of sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.
After chronicling America’s birth as a “nation of hustlers,” and exhaustively mapping its mutation into a vicious playground for the rich and prison for the poor, Berman has turned his eyes and pen to the East. His new book, “Neurotic Beauty: An Outsider Looks at Japan
,” is a bracing, fascinating and challenging exploration of Japanese culture, politics, and ethics. The product of a lifelong fascination for Berman, “Neurotic Beauty” not only examines Japanese history and contemporary culture, but also the relationship between Japan and America, the conflict between individualism and collectivism, craft traditions alternative to consumer capitalism, and the possibility that Japan might emerge as a “post-capitalist” model for economics and politics.
I recently had the pleasure and privilege of interviewing Berman about his book, and his forecast for Japan and America.
Read the interview at Salon.